The folks over at Astral are dedicated to making gear in a way that preserves the purity of nature, both on land and in water. We reached out to them about our sampling-and-stomping trip, and they kicked us some sweet gear in order to support what we’re doing!
Most lifejackets come in manly, serious colors: navy blue, black and red, etc… The Layla however, blasts away that dullness with three great colors to choose from. I tried out the Rosa Red on the trip and it felt great to have that extra visibility in the water with a bright color instead of my usual black lifejacket. It’s also tailored to specifically fit women, with a creative design in the chest that lets you forget you’re even wearing a life jacket. The soft fabric lining is the last piece that secures its place as the perfect PFD to row a raft for days on end in, no shirt required. It’s even compatible with a quick-release rescue belt for more extreme conditions! There’s also a great front pocket that perfectly fits a beer, snacks, or your rock collection (nice work by astral there, it’s a make-or-break addition in my opinion). The straps are easy to adjust and located for the optimal fit. The zipper (which makes it super fast and easy to put on) is backed up by a secondary buckle for extra security. The jacket has more length than other vests too, allowing the foam to be thinner and less cumbersome, a feature that I love when R2-ing or rowing a boat. No other company on the market is making a product quite like the Layla, it’s super stylish in color and cut, it fits a woman’s body perfectly, and it can be converted to a rescue vest if need arises. It’s the clear choice for any rafters, from first time on the water to the more experienced (I’ll certainly be wearing it raft guiding this summer!), and it’s not limited to only women either! The guys tried it out and loved how much more chest expansion it allowed them while still being super secure (they loved how soft the fabric was too)!
These shoes saw us through swimming waterfalls, jumping between slick rocks, and dancing up a storm at the bars. They have stronger laces to resist abrasion and a roomy toebox that’s still comfortable even after you accidentally rip off a big toenail (I tested that out personally). They are low profile and super light but still beefy enough to handle whaterver you throw at them, from rivers to trails. They fit well in a kayak, and the heel is stiff enough that it doesn’t slide off like other shoes will. They have a great drainage hole system, perfect for staying light in the river, but not great for bootie beers (I’m not complaining!). The mesh allows for breathability and allows the shoe to dry out fast enough to wear out on the town after a full day boating, plus, they never acquire that usual bootie stink! The seams didn’t hold up too well for 30 days in a row of kayaking, hiking, and dancing, but there’s back-up stitching that keeps the shoe solidly together even if one seam decides to blow. The super-grippy rubber lets you feel secure scouting right to the edge of the river, you can rely on the Aquanauts during sketchy portages. They fit all shapes and sizes of feet, and are easier than ever to put on with drysuit because the laces and tongues easily open wide to slide your foot in, and then cinch down tightly after. Pro tip: order a half-size up to allow for drysuit/socks/neoprene layers underneath!
We’ve both used Astral Gear for years, we love their shoes and life jackets! Here are some other products we’ve tried!
The Astral Green Jacket is the top rescue vest on the market. Everyone knows it. It’s super comfortable and stylish, ready for rescue with the tensile strength rescue harness, and has a legit pocket system (one to coil your cowtail, one to hold your beer, and compartments for snacks). It’s like low profile armor, has sweet fleecy pockets for your hands, and an upgraded knife attachment system (rate of river knife loss has never been so low). It is the life jacket to end all life jackets, and if you’re serious about boating there is no clearer choice.
The brewess is my go-to shoe for kayaking. It has a heel slit in addition to the drainage holes for quicker release of water (making bootie beers harder than ever!). It’s definitely not as beefy or as breathable as the Aquanaut, but easily conforms to a kayak and super stylish in the process. I’ll wear these shoes anywhere, biking, around town and definitely out on the water. They held up perfectly for ~150 days of boating before even starting to show wear, and even now are still secure to wear for another season.
Thanks to Astral for supporting our trip and supporting our waterways!